Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hall Lake 1995

Two boys lived in my upper-middle-class neighborhood in derelict western Pennsylvania. It was a precarious little pocket of faux opulence, buried in the hills of nowhere. The boys were both about 15 – more or less my age. They were inseparable by virtue of geographic proximity, convenience, and love of mischief. They shared in minor vandalism, shoplifting and drinking.

Our neighborhood sat near a very small pond, which was called Hall Lake, in the same spirit of overestimation which had led people in this area to feel worldly and relevant. It was not a lake. It was a manmade byproduct of the land movers sculpting the neighborhood. Road construction in this area was frequent. One late summer evening, these two boys decided to steal one of the construction horses from the road. It was the kind with the circular blinking lights on top. They took it, ran down to the pond, and threw it in as far as they could. It only made it about ten feet. It wasn’t a very good throw. One of the neighbors saw the whole thing and took no action. It was such a pointless, uninspiring act of rebellion. Proportionate to its small size, the pond was also very shallow. It was no more than four feet deep at its deepest point. This played a big role in the accidental brilliance of their art. Given that the pond was so shallow, and that the blinking light was waterproof and battery powered, it continued to blink underwater in the pond for about the next two weeks. It could be seen from the road at night. The near shore of the pond blinked orange, like a miniature sunrise was about to be birthed from it. It was beautiful and powerfully evocative, like performance art.

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